Steve Jobs has famously said that any company that added a stylus to a device “blew it.” This only makes Apple's launch of the Apple Pencil, which works in tandem with the iPad Pro, all the more fascinating. At the time of its release, only manufacturers of Android phones like Samsung and LG had the stylus as an accessory for a range of their tablets and phones. This has caused some to dismiss the Apple Pencil as a reaction to Microsoft Pro and Samsung Galaxy tablets. As usual, however, Apple has taken what others have tried to do, and blown them out of the water. For a small accessory, and weighing only a gram, the Apple Pencil is loaded with 15 semiconductors, with a driver integrated circuit housed in the tip. With such a sophisticated and complex design, one has to wonder whether the Apple Pencil might just have changed Steve Jobs' mind. With this new accessory, Apple is trying to make the tablet multi-use and customizable to different types of users in a more functional way than a colored screen case (although these are cute too). Here are some things you should know about the Apple Pencil:
1. It is Pressure Sensitive
The Apple Pencil is pressure sensitive and highly responsive. You can get different levels of depth or darkness depending on how much force you apply to it. The accessory has a number of pressure sensors (it’s internal design is truly fascinating) that can measure different degrees of force. According to Apple, the lag on their stylus is at a bare minimum or virtually nonexistent. The reason for this is that the iPad Pro display subsystems scan for signals from the stylus at an astonishing 240 times per second – which is significantly more than a screen uses for touch input, designed to give the same natural feel as the 3D touch improvement on new iPhone models. This technology gives you the closest thing to the feeling of drawing a line on a real sheet of paper available on the market today.
2. You can tilt the Pencil while sketching
Usually artists tilt charcoal or pencils to create a broader stroke or for shading. You can do the same thing with the Apple Pencil because it has two tilt sensors in its tip. These sensors can detect the exact angle of your hand when you are sketching and respond accordingly. This results in the Apple Pencil making broader and finer strokes as the artist wishes, and can also be used for painting on the new iPad.
3. It has an awesome battery
The Apple Pencil has its own battery that charges via a male lightning connector that you can plug into the iPad Pro. According to Apple, you can use the stylus for up to 12 hours if it is fully charged, or you could charge it for just 15 seconds and use it for 30 minutes. You can even view its charging status on iOS. The only concern about its male lightning connector is that it makes it easy to accidentally break the pencil while it is charging.
4. The Pencil feels Natural
Most traditional electronic styli do not feel natural in your hands; they tend to be heavy or oddly shaped. The Apple Pencil seeks to change that by giving artists a cylindrical stylus that feels natural in your hands and that has a tip that is approximately the size of that on a normal ballpoint pen. When you use it, it feels like you're holding an actual pen. The only downside is that the outside plastic covering on the stylus makes it slippery and hard to grip for some users.
5. It’s really not just a stylus
The first styli that were ever introduced in the market acted either as the main input for phones or for taking notes and basic sketching. The Apple Pencil’s main function is painting and pressure sensitive drawing. It is primarily aimed at artists who want a convenient and less messy way of testing out their idea. It is also a convenient way to get iPad-obsessed children to use their screen time as something other than a TV-substitute.
The features of the Apple Pencil, like its ability to make broader and lighter strokes when tilted, make it unique when compared to other styli that already exist. Its inclusion as an accessory for the iPad Pro stays true to Apple’s tendency to pick basic ideas from others, and innovate them to the next level.
Author: Michael Rodgers